The Top Ten Most Intriguing Coaching Matchups of the Weekend
- by Zach Barnett 10 months ago
1. Steve Spurrier vs. Mark Richt - Two future Hall of Famers facing off in the game of the weekend, with all-time Georgia supervillain Steve Spurrier (11-1 vs. the Dogs at Florida, won three straight at South Carolina) looking to burn yet another season in Athens. This one looks like another war that will come down to the final possession.
2. Gus Malzahn vs. the Arkansas State staff - After taking the No. 1 spot last week, Gus Malzahn makes the list again this week. That's a lot of intrigue for a new head coach taking over a 3-9 team. But, if these programs were to meet this season with Malzahn coaching at Arkansas State and Gene Chizik still at Auburn, the Red Wolves would have to be favored, right? That's not the case, however. What is the case, though, is the defending Sun Belt champions attempting to beat their old head coach with his own offense.
3. James Coley vs. D.J. Durkin - All 22 eyes on the Florida defense and all 40,000-70,000 sets of eye balls at Sun Life Stadium will be on running back Duke Johnson every time the Hurricanes offense takes the field. Of course, Miami offensive coordinator James Coley knows this. Coley's waited a long time to become an offensive coordinator, and now here's his first shot at an elite defense in an emotionally charged psuedo-rivalry we won't see again for the forseeable future. What will he do with it?
4. Chuck Martin and the Notre Dame offensive staff vs. Greg Mattison and the Michigan defensive staff - In its 28-6 season-opening defeat of Temple, Notre Dame's offense was incredibly explosive (14 plays for 324 yards on its four touchdown drives), except when it wasn't (48 plays for 219 yards on its eight non-scoring possessions). As Martin looks to coax more of the former out of quarterback Tommy Rees, Mattison will work to bring about the return of Turnover Tommy.
5. Bobby Petrino and the Western Kentucky offensive staff vs. John Jancek and the Tennessee defensive staff - Western Kentucky was the best team on the field for all 60 minutes last week versus Kentucky. Let's just say the hooneymoon would be over for Butch Jones and his staff if that's the case again at Neyland Stadium on Saturday. For that to happen, the Hilltoppers will need to match last week's eight yards per pass attempt and 5.3 yards per rush.
6. Mark Snyder vs. Doug Ruse - We're going to assume Texas A&M spent the majority of its practice time working on its run fits. Sam Houston State running back Tim Flanders is better than anyone Rice has, and Flanders is nothing compared to what comes to Kyle Field next week.
7. Bob Stoops vs. Dana Holgorsen - There's no game on this week's schedule with as many intruiging storylines that should still end with a 20-point margin of victory. The Sooners' defensive seeking atonement for last year's opponent-record 778-yard explosion by the Mountaineers. OU offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh facing his old team after spending two years on Holgorsen's staff. There's also the old "the biggest improvement comes from Week 1 to Week 2" corollary hopefully at play here for OU's passing game, starter Trevor Knight threw 28 times for 86 yards against ULM, and West Virginia's...well, everything, following a 24-17 squeaker over William & Mary.
8. Mack Brown vs. Bronco Mendenhall - At this stage of his career, Brown walks into a crucial game every single time he steps on the field. Mendenhall, meanwhile, told us in June this was "the most difficult schedule BYU has ever played in the school's history." That was before the Cougars dropped a game at Virginia in which they outgained the Cavs by 139 yards. While, yes, beating Texas is no doubt a difficult task, the path to six wins doesn't get any easier from here.
9. Brian Rock and the Kent State offensive staff vs. Mike Elko and the Bowling Green defensive staff - Kent State's 31-24 November win over Bowling Green decided the 2012 MAC East title, and this year's de facto divison championship falls much earlier in 2013. The Flashes won that game on the strength of running back Dri Archer's 241 yards and two scores; Archer is day-to-day for this year's clash after leaving Kent State's opener after just three carries. If Archer is less than 100 percent, where will Rock manufacture yards and points against the conference's best defense?
10. Lane Kiffin vs. Mike Leach - Here's a good rule of thumb to remember going forward: any time Lane Kiffin and Mike Leach coach against each other, you can bank on that game making our 10 Most Intriguing Coaching Matchups of the Weekend. This game has more on the line for both teams than people realize. Both teams played true to form in Week 1, a safe but not dominant win at Hawaii for USC and a close loss at Auburn for Washington State, but this one could be a tone-setter for both clubs' seasons. A win for Washington State would signify a major statement for the return of Wazzu football under Leach, while a USC loss would tie up the phone lines of every sports talk radio show in southern California for entirety of next week.